Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#478 Andrew Forrest $4.13B

Random fact: Family lost cattle ranch in 1998. Forrest bought it back 11 years later.

Overview

Forrest is the founder and largest shareholder of Fortescue Metals Group, the world's fourth-largest iron ore producer. The Perth, Australia-based miner shipped 170 million tons of iron ore from the Pilbara region in the year to June 30, 2017. He also has stakes in publicly traded healthcare group Admedus and Poseidon Nickel.

As of Oct. 17, 2017:
Last change +$46.7M (+1.1%)
YTD change -$488M (-10.6%)
Industry Commodities
Biggest asset FMG AU Equity
Citizenship Australia
Age 55
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Andrew Forrest's net worth of $4.13B can buy ...

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
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Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Forrest's fortune is derived from his 33 percent stake in Fortescue Metals Group. He owns the shares directly and through Minderoo Group, according to the 2017 annual report. Fortescue shipped 170 million tonnes or iron ore and is the world's fourth largest producer, according to the report.

The value of his cash investments is based on an analysis of dividends, taxes and market performance. It was updated on May 22, 2017 to account for his charitable donation of A$400 million ($298 million). The donation was described by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull as "the biggest single philanthropic gift" in Australian history.

The billionaire also owns a 22 percent stake in uranium miner Vimy Resources, 14 percent of Poseidon Nickel, and a 6 percent stake in healthcare company Admedus, according to the companies' 2016 annual reports.

Jane Humphries, a spokesperson for Fortescue, declined to comment on the net worth calculation.

Biography

Birthdate: 11/18/1961
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: Economics, University of Western Australia, Bachelor's Degree

Andrew Forrest's ancestors include Sir John Forrest, an explorer and the first premier of Western Australia, and Sir John's brothers Alexander and David. Their 19th-century expeditions in the outback led the pioneering family to settle at Minderoo Station, a cattle and sheep ranch of more than half a million acres surrounded by the Pilbara, a 193,000-square-mile desert arcing into the Indian Ocean.

The farm was handed down through surviving generations. Andrew, nicknamed Twiggy, was born in 1961 and grew up on the ranch, which was managed by his father Donald. Forrest recalls a difficult life at Minderoo. As a toddler, he was lost one day after slipping through a homestead fence and falling through a cattle grate. Suffering from hours of sunburn, the two-year-old was rescued by the ranch's head stockman and Aboriginal leader Scotty Black. Forrest credits Black as his mentor. 

In the remote outback, Forrest and his siblings started their education through a shortwave radio program called School of the Air. He was later sent to a boarding school in Perth and worked as a jackeroo, or farmhand, at Minderoo. His father sold Minderoo Station due to drought and mounting debt in 1998. Forrest bought it back in 2009.

He graduated from the University of Western Australia, and became a stockbroker. After noticing that the demand for stainless steel was rising at 4 percent a year, he quit stockbroking and got into nickel mining in 1995 through a company he founded, Anaconda Nickel. The company needed more than $1 billion in financing to build a nickel plant in the desert called Murrin Murrin. The plant would need to crush 3 million metric tons of rock a year using 5,000 instruments and specialized vats to mix the ore with water and acid under high pressure. He sought funding from mining giants Glencore, which invested $280 million, and Anglo American, which provided $200 million.

Forrest attracted $400 million from high-yield bond investors in the U.S. Over the years, the high costs and complexities involved in nickel production led to losses and Forrest was ousted. U.S. bondholders recouped 26 cents on the dollar after the bonds defaulted in March 2002. Anglo American recovered 7 percent of its $200 million investment in Anaconda. Glencore paid $268 million in October 2011 for the 27 percent stake in the company that it didn’t already own.

His next project was Allied Mining & Processing, which had rights to iron ore in the Pilbara. Forrest took control of Allied in April 2013, renamed it Fortescue and began adding adjoining mining leases on flatland that BHP and Rio Tinto had ignored. He was denied the use of BHP and Rio railways to ship the ore, so he built his own.

Fortescue had made its first shipment to China by May 2008. Fortescue increased its capacity to 155 million tonnes per annum through a $9.2 billion expansion in 2014.

Milestones
  • 1961 Born in Perth, Australia, to an outback cattle rancher.
  • 1982 Graduates from university after studying economics and politics.
  • 1985 Works as a stockbroker at Kirke Securities.
  • 1995 Starts Anaconda Nickel, attracts project financing.
  • 2003 Sets up Fortescue after standing down as CEO at Anaconda Nickel.
  • 2008 Fortescue loads first iron ore shipment to China.
  • 2009 Buys back family farm, Minderoo.
  • 2012 Wins High Court case against Australia's securities regulator.